Granada How to...

How to… survive a Spanish winter *shock horror!*

December 4, 2012
granada, winter, spain

This blog is only six weeks young and I can’t help but feel that I’m already getting quite the penchant for writing about Spanish weather. And quite frankly it concerns me, because everybody knows that weather is all together a rather boring topic of conversation- something better left for impromptu awkward silences or endless inane chatter between grannies on buses, let alone something to blog about. But given that I am presently sat in my bedroom, wearing a hat, gloves, hoody and my snowboarding jacket with two mini-heaters blasting hot, musty air at me, I also can’t help but feel that weather over here is something that one can’t help but talk, or indeed blog about.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t just switched the central heating on. Well, I could switch the central heating on, if my housemates weren’t so uncompromisingly against it. “El crísi’!, el crísi’!” (andaluz translation for “The crisis, the crisis”) they keep yelling at me- in other words, the bills are getting harder to pay and we can’t afford to turn the central heating on yet. Mind you, at least we actually have the luxury of central heating in our house- many Spanish homes simply don’t bother with it, their tenants preferring instead to pay cheaper rent and risk freezing themselves to death.

spain, cold, winter, hat, gloves

Bye bye suntan

So whether you share my circumstances, you’re new here, or considering the move, wearing nearly all your clothes and/or rocking back and forth in your frozen desk-chair in a state of shock, fret not. For you have just stumbled across the first ever ‘how to survive the winter in Spain even though it probably isn’t as cold as winter back at home’ blog post! So take my numbed and quivering hand as I walk you through some nifty tips on fighting el frio…

One: Dress sensibly

One can never underestimate the power of a good wooly jumper. If you haven’t got one, get one! They’re comfy, cozy and rather fashionable these days I believe. Grab a bargain at H&M or Pull & Bear.

Two: Cover the Floor

Buy a rug and pop it down next to your bed. The thought of peeling yourself away from beneath the duvet covers in the morning is an unpleasant one in any case, but during the winter months even conceiving the idea can be regarded as an achievement. If you don’t have a rug readily available nor the income to go splashing out on one, have your slippers at the ready. 

Three: Drink and eat well

Common sense this one really. But when in Spain you’ll no doubt discover that certain luxuries that were once easily acquired are no longer so. Fortunately, there is Mercadona, and thankfully it offers us Brits what no other Spanish supermarket can: tea. And I mean proper, actual tea, as in the one you add milk to. Not that ghastly fusion stuff. You’ll only find PG Tips but it’s better than nothing, and when you’re sat caressing a mug of it, shivering under a blanket in your subzero casa, you’ll have never felt so grateful.

Food-wise, I’ve often found that there is nothing more doctoring than a rich, delicious and mightily healthy bowl of ‘pisto’ to warm your entrails.

Four: Spoon a housemate

Why not? You’ll no doubt already know from that very first, clumsy double-cheek kiss greeting that the Spanish are a plainly uninhibited nation when it comes to bodily contact, so stick the telly on, and snuggle up. Body warmth is of the utmost importance and what better way is there to share some? Boys, just bear in mind potentially awkward consequences if you’re housemate is super hot. Girls- don’t insist on being big spoon for extra warmth, it’s extremely emasculating and we don’t like it.

Five: Steal someone else’s heat

As in go to someone else’s house where there is central heating and stay as long as possible. If you don’t have any friends with central heating, or if you simply don’t have any friends, then head to your nearest café or cozy restaurant. Not that I’m encouraging stinginess but it probably costs less for a few rounds of coffee than it does for just 15 minutes of your mini-heater. Take a book and find a quiet corner.

sierra nevada, granada, spain, winter

Sierra Nevada peaking through the clouds at sunset © Tony Lee Bruce

Six: Jump around!

Jump up jump up and get down. Jump, jump, jump, jump… etc.

Seven: Utilize sunlight 

Another one that should really go without saying- leave your curtains open during the day and let in all that lovely sunlight. It may get cold in Spain (it does, honestly!) but we can at least rely on there being bright blue skies every day. Those golden rays will provide pockets of magnified toastiness for respite from the rest of your chilly living room. Shut them before bed though, or you’ll shiver yourself silly.

Eight: Sex it up

Presuming of course that you have another willing participant, this cold-combatting tactic is, needless to say, the most enjoyable. I won’t bother with all the scientific spiel- it’ll hardly be a turn-on for your other half if you attribute the reason for shagging to a statistically proven blood circulation increase of 30% etc. If you’re especially fond of bonking (first time I’ve ever used that word, by the way) then click here for some extra raunchy tips to keep yourselves pleasantly heated. However, click here, to learn about what not to do.

Nine: Microwave your socks

This is a neat, crafty little trick I picked up back at University, and never fails to provoke a long, gratifying sigh. Stick a cup of water in there as well to add some moisture and reduce the risk of your socks catching fire.

Ten: Sod it and get drunk

Sometimes the only effective measure in such drastic circumstances is to get suitably and unabashedly sloshed. Stick to spirits or wine though (cheap Supersol wine or Mercadona rum are best)- beer will only make matters worse. And don’t inadvertently turn yourself into an alcoholic. This will not solve any of your problems.

Got any more tips? Let’s hear them…

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  • Maya December 4, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Haha love it, have tried some of these but not the microwaving of socks (yet). Definitely agree in Spain you need to think about heating the immediate area rather than the house, layers and leccy blankets rule.. but at least we know that as soon as Spring comes the warm sunshine will return!

    • Josh December 4, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Indeed, but let’s not wish it away too quickly… The winter does after all bring some redeeming features, i.e. SNOW! 🙂

  • Clare December 4, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Don’t underestimate the power of a hot water bottle. Available from your neighbourhood chemist, Casa, or probably El Corte Inglés. Or maybe Papa Noel if you’ve been good.

    • Josh December 5, 2012 at 1:33 am

      Funny you should mention that- I only learnt that water bottle is ‘bolsa de agua’ in Spanish today, after my housemate told me she had one in her bed. I thought she meant a catheter at first!

  • Matthew Hirtes December 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Some great advice. No central heating in our pad in the Canaries. I’m snooded up to compensate.

    • Josh December 5, 2012 at 1:41 am

      Glad to help and great idea! A snood. Great word too!

      • Matthew Hirtes December 5, 2012 at 7:14 am

        I feel like a pre-ban Premier League footballer. Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Samir Nasri.

    • Mo December 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      Snood is good! My tip for winter warmth is Marks and Spencer´s hoodie or snoodie “dressing gown” which is in actual fact a sort of jilaba, so quite fitting for Al Andalus. My recent trip to Glascocia proved that it is now available in a raunchy jaguar print so what are you waiting for? Pair it up with the satin jaguar print jammies I got for my 13 year old daughter, Malassie, who is at present going through a cat stage, and even the post person of a morning will want to share his/her body heat with you in a most South of Granada fashion.

  • Marianne December 5, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Electric blanket and thick fluffy bed socks!

    • Josh December 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Thick fluffy microwaved bed socks!

      • Marianne December 5, 2012 at 7:51 pm

        Hmmm … I’m a bit scared to try that Josh! lol

  • Diana Berryman (@soc1albutterfly) December 5, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Brilliant!! A calor gas heater does wonders as well as doing it old skool with hot water bottles and electric blankets…much healthier than that suffocating central heating malarkey!!

    • Josh December 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      I certainly hope you’re right! I was an avid consumer of central heating malarkey last year and the year before!

  • Elle Draper December 5, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Great article! Am experiencing my first Spanish winter after 6 years of being spoiled in the Canaries. Currently huddled in 4 layers of jumpers and thick boots because I?m too stingy to put a fire on (this office is really badly insulated so the heat would only go straight out of the roof anyway). Shared! Elle xx

    • Josh December 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Nice! Please accept my WARMEST wishes Elle. Thanks for the share!

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  • georgemills25 December 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    A few weeks ago, just as the cold was setting in here in Seville, I asked my landlord if she could perhaps bring a couple of heaters over to our flat – at a time to suit her, of course. She looked at me like I was crazy.

    ‘I think that’s something tenants usually deal with,’ she said.

    She must have had pangs of guilt at some later moment, though, because she did eventually bring around one oil heater. Given that me and my girlfriend share a 3-bedroom apartment, this seemed a little cheap, but until we buy a couple more heaters, we are cranking up the temperature in the study, which has become our hang out of choice.

    The rest of the flat, meanwhile, is an icebox – the other 2 bedrooms, the living room and the kitchen are barely tolerable.

    In terms of other ways to keep warm? I like the sex option but I’m always too damn cold to take my clothes off! Fluffy slippers is good though. It’s way too cold to worry about looking cool…

    • Matthew Hirtes December 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      I’m off to Seville next weekend. Hope my hotel have invested in some heaters.

    • Josh December 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Who said fluffy slippers were uncool? Wear them proudly George, and stay snug!

    • Mo December 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      George, here´s a good tip from an older lady who has been to Mexico on how to have sex and be clothed. Leather chaps. No back or front but keeps your legs covered. Probably available by mail from the Castro district San Francisco too and perfectly appropriate with fluffy slippers.

      • georgemills25 December 16, 2012 at 2:48 am

        Brilliant! I’ll get on to it straight away!

  • Chica Andaluza December 9, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Love this post and sorry it´s taken me so long to get over and visit! Apart from those Brits who live on the coast and enjoy sitting in the sun all year round, I always struggle to understand why people would chose to live in Spain over the Winter. Wait a minute, that´s me in my house with no central heating and having to rely on my big old log fire to warm us up, I did invest in an electric blanket though. All great tips here, and a good racion of gambas pil pil also goes a long way to warming you up from the inside :

  • Rachel December 11, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Colder still in Jaén between Sierras. Hints: Pile everything you can on top of the bed having first used a hairdryer to de-chill the sheets.
    Thermal insoles in all footwear, slippers included.
    Rugs on floors so slippers nor socks touch the icy tiles.
    Internal warming – sweet Malaga wine, cheaper than heating at 4,50€ for 2litres of the most palatable stuff from Mas y Mas.
    Thermal Long johns tucked into long sleeve high-neck thermal vest.
    And of course those horrible nylon-static-producing sheets – the kids love ´em, not for me though and Safety Tip: don´t put the hair dryer too close to them!

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  • Sean October 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Dude, you look absolutely freezing in that 1st pic! It’s currently that sort of weather in the UK so I know what you were going through. Funny thing is over in the UK we don’t expect to hear about it being cold in Spain, as if it’s not a real thing 🙂

    • Josh October 23, 2013 at 11:25 am

      It’s very real i’m sorry to say. And it looks as though we’re about to get another fill 🙁

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  • Sue Sharpe December 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Has it really been a year since I first read this? Blimey! tempus doesn’t half fugit, eh? Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    • Josh December 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Haha, you’re very welcome! Microwaved socks are just soo good.

      • Sue Sharpe December 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm

        ……only if you have a microwave! Looks like I’ll have to resort to #8 & #10 (again!) 🙂

  • con jamón spain December 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    1/2 a bottle of brandy and a spoon (of sugar)